Long-time law enforcement officer Tommy Smithey has been chosen Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Forty and Eight, a charitable honor society of American Veterans.
The award was presented at the law enforcement center this past week and included a plaque and cash award. This also means Smithey’s application for the society is being forwarded for consideration.
The society originated after World War I as La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux. The name came from the founders’ wartime experiences in France and from the boxcars used by the French railroad that could either carry 40 men or eight horses. “40/8” was often marked on the boxcars.
“The French government gave each state one of the boxcars,” Barrett said. “Ours is behind the war museum in Jackson.”
“They wanted to continue the comradeship they endured in the trenches,” Bobby Christopher, Grande Chef de Train for the Northern Area, said.
The Forth and Eight has grown to help those who have served in the Armed Forces and help their families. Charitable programs include child welfare, nurses training, scholarships, leprosy and tuberculosis research, Veterans Administration volunteer services, youth sports and POW/MIA efforts.
The organization uses French terms for officers and hierarchy, consists of about 35,000 worldwide and membership is by invitation only to honorably discharged veterans in good standing with the Legion, according to Chef de Gare Ray Barrett, who is also Post 51 and 1st District Commander.
“We also give first-graders flags and award the law enforcement officer of the year,” Barrett said. “The poppy sales is how we make our money.”
In presenting the award, Barrett said “We are here today to recognize a very great American.” He cited Smithey’s 28 years in law enforcement “protecting people and property” with the Union County Sheriff’s Department, New Albany Police and as a school resource officer, and noted that before that, Smithey served in the U. S. Navy, seeing duty in Vietnam.
Smithey said he was both surprised and honored by the award. Family members attended the ceremony and a reception for Smithey was held afterward.
Members of the Forty and Eight from Union County include former sheriff Tommy Wilhite, Paul Bullock, Robert Coltharp, Jerry Carter, Thurman Parrish and Larry Tatum.
Those present for the ceremony included, from left, Sheriff Jimmy Edwards; Post 72 Past Commander, Past Chef de Gare (commander) and Past 1st District Commander Thurman Parrish; Smithey’s daughter, Pam Futato; Smithey; grandchildren Dawn Jarvis; wife, Faye Smithey; Payton Goins, Taylor Jarvis, Chris Whiteside; Correspondant (Adjutant) Larry Tatum; Chef de Gare (Commander) Ray Barrett and Grande Chef de Train (State Executive Officer) Bobby Christopher.